For athletic dino action, stick with the Dino-Sports series by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott.

THE PREHISTORIC GAMES

Though the ancient Greeks hadn’t yet invented the Olympics, this is what they might have looked like had the dinosaurs participated in the contests.

Once every 1,000 years the Prehistoric Games are held, and the events are largely those of the Summer Games—running, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, wrestling—with one addition: herbivore vs. carnivore dodgeball. Spot-on rhyming verses describe the action, though the vocabulary may cause some younger readers to miss out on the humor and/or meaning: “T. Rex is prone and puffing hard, / with arms too short and weak. / Raptors dash around the track, / racing cheek to cheek.” (The illustration may help in this case.) There are some issues, however, between the text and the artwork: some do not agree—“Teenage allosaurs pump up / with sets of barbell curls” shows a single dinosaur, for instance—and readers will wish the pictures better reflected the verses. The anthropomorphized dinos wear clothing, but their expressions are wooden and unexpressive, and compositions are often far from dynamic, making these games less exciting than they might have been. Members of the press, with notepads and cameras, are prominent in the brightly colored illustrations.

For athletic dino action, stick with the Dino-Sports series by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott. (glossary, pronunciation guide) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2138-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A lovely, empowering book about having the courage to express one’s individuality.

JOHN'S TURN

A young White boy shares his secret talent with his classmates for the first time.

An unnamed, unidentified narrator, clearly one of the titular protagonist’s schoolmates, explains that every week at Friday Assembly, one student gets to perform for the whole school, an activity called “Sharing Gifts.” Once, Tina played her tuba; another time, Jessie did some magic; Carol delivered a stand-up routine. Now it’s John’s turn, and boy does he look nervous. In short, declarative sentences the text describes John’s preparations for his act. Once on stage, he hesitates as some kids laugh at the musical track accompanying his performance—“strings, violins and things, and then maybe flutes”—then it’s showtime. A succession of wordless, double-page spreads uses continuous narration to showcase the various poses and steps of John’s glorious ballet recital. His facial expression and body language morph as fear gives way to a joyful sense of accomplishment. Young readers will love John’s classmates’ reactions at the ending. Berube’s simple ink-and-paint illustrations have minimal background details, allowing readers to focus squarely on John and his emotions. It is truly wonderful to see a boy character in a children’s book so enthusiastic about, and accomplished at, ballet. Any child, though, who has a talent to share or struggles with performance anxiety will find a role model in John. The children are nicely diverse racially. Their teachers present White.

A lovely, empowering book about having the courage to express one’s individuality. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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